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Tuesday 05 April 2022

Over £16M boost to drive better care through research in Southampton

University Hospital Southampton (UHS) is investing in research and innovation over the next four years, to drive the next generation of hospital services.

That includes two new centres of excellence launching in 2022. They will speed new technologies into the clinic and boost public engagement and voice in research.

Thriving university-hospital partnership

Patients at hospitals that do research have better outcomes. Southampton’s university-hospital partnership has driven these benefits across its 50-year history.

At the core of this is the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. That takes new discoveries, treatments and technologies into the clinic. Supporting that and other early-stage trials is the NIHR Clinical Research Facility. Recently awarded a further £10 million over five years, it has long led delivery of ground-breaking studies. Over £100m of capital spend committed by UHS to key hospital facilities between 2021 and 2023 further boosts capacity to embed research in our clinical care.

“University Hospitals are defined by world-class care through research, innovation and teaching. We’re growing our research workforce and facilities, because they are critical to this. This strategy will also strengthen our successful partnership with the University of Southampton.

“Asking important questions – and answering them – is core to the UHS mindset,” added Christine McGrath, UHS Director of Strategy and Partnerships.

“We are one of the largest and busiest acute Trusts in the UK. Research remains front and centre as we manage covid pressures. I came into the executive team, from my role as Director of R&D, to embed research across UHS’s strategy and the wider system.”  

The £16m investment will include a new Southampton Emerging Therapies and Technology Centre. The SETT Centre will focus research and innovation on NHS needs in emerging areas. UHS will become one of a select few organisations able to develop, test and deliver the next generation of clinical services and rapidly transfer them from ‘bench to bedside’.  

The Centre’s initial projects will advance gene and cell therapies, devices and AI-driven precision medicine.  The investment will also provide for the new Southampton Centre for Research Engagement and Impact (SCREI). SCREI aims to ensure clarity, openness and fairness in research. It will drive ever more benefit and impact by including and engaging the widest range of people in the design and delivery of research.  

Led by the Southampton Academy of Research (SoAR) over £5m of further investment is in a new research leaders programme to support future ‘rising stars’ and a doctoral fellowship scheme to support staff at the start of their research careers.  Over £500,000 has also been made available this year to advance research through internal grants and the Southampton Hospitals Charity have developed a new research grant funding scheme.

Dr Karen Underwood, Interim Director of Research & Development (R&D) at UHS, says: “The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the immense value of research and innovation. Our research was key to life-saving vaccines, treatments and community testing. This major investment will allow us to make the most of new opportunities, and a fair and open research culture.”